Slovenia is a small country that packs a punch when it comes to its gorgeous, varied landscape, and that also translates directly to amazing cuisine. Wondering what to eat in Slovenia? Look no further!
With influences from Italy next door, the Balkan Peninsula, on which it sits, and Austria and Hungary to the north, the bounty of culinary delights was impressive…and tasty. There are a whopping 24 different “gastronomic regions” in Slovenia, each with its own specialties from sausage to soups to ravioli and pastas.
What to Eat in Slovenia
One of the best things about Ljubljana is the dozens of inviting outdoor cafes all along the river. It’s like the perfect city to just chill in with a cold beer or coffee.
Pumpkin Seed Oil
For a great view and traditional yet modern dishes, check out the restaurant at the castle. I got my first taste of toasted pumpkin seed oil here and started a love affair that will probably last forever.
This variety of pumpkin seed oil is native to the region around the border of Austria and Slovenia. It is thick, rich and nutty. And it goes good on everything from salads to cheese and bread to even a drizzle on vanilla ice cream. I couldn’t get enough of it! I brought a bottle home and am on the hunt for importers to the U.S. (or might even become one myself!).
Where to Eat Local Food in Ljubljana
The Central Market
Everyday (except Sunday), you can shop at the Ljubljana Central Market, the soul of the city. Fresh produce from all over the country, homemade pastries and even fresh, unpasteurized milk from a nifty milk machine are available here. It’s definitely worth a stop. On Fridays, all summer, don’t miss the Open Kitchen. It’s held at the market square and here you can sample some of Slovenia’s most authentic dishes from various cooks and chefs of Slovenia.
Another good spot for local cuisine with a positive twist is Druga Violina. They serve traditional Slovenian dishes and specifically employ folks with special needs. I came across a lot of little inspirational business like this that were more civic-focused showing Slovenia’s heart.
One quick place I must mention was my very first visit to a cat café. It made me feel all kinds of happy and I even considered opening up my own in Chicago. But instead I plan to just volunteer at our new one this fall!
Cooking Class with Cook Eat Slovenia
Špela Vodovc is proud of her background and country’s culinary traditions. Four years ago she created Cook Eat Slovenia with her partners to promote the diverse food culture here.
I enjoy cooking of course,” she says. “We want to show Slovenia is not just the big towns but also the smaller regions of our country where so many great products come from.”
One evening during my stay in Ljubljana, I literally walked two doors down from my airbnb apartment to Gostilna Dela (another community business which gives jobs to undereducated youth), where Špela holds cooking classes in the evenings much of the summer. The restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch so she is able to use their kitchen in the evening.
During my four-hour cooking course, Špela and I (okay, mostly Špela!) prepared three courses, plus did some liqueur tasting. Here is a look at what we prepared…and then devoured.
- Skuta s čemažem (cottage cheese with wild garlic)
- Black olive pate with Istrian olive oil
- Skuta z bučnim oljem (cottage cheese with pumpkin seed oil)
- Bohinjska zaseka (Bohinj pork spread)
- Ajdov kruh z orehi (Buckwheat bread with walnuts)
Toč with prosciutto
- Turnip or sauerkraut with garlic and onions (the best sauerkraut I’ve ever had!)
- Pečenica (raw sausage)
- Ajdovi žganci – Buckweath žganci
- Local Slovenian wine
Skutni Štruklji (Cottage cheese Štruklji)
I highly recommend this class. It was really fun to chat and get to know Špela plus I learned a lot about the local food here and just wanted to know more.
In fact, she is soon to release a brand new cookbook with traditional Slovenian recipes and stories!
A Food Walk of Ljubljana
Iva is another woman entrepreneur I met. She founded her own food tour company called Ljubljananjam. This renaissance woman is a long-term photojournalist, foodie, traveler, and communications consultant. And now she’s an expert in her hometown extolling its culinary virtues to travelers who come through. Her tours are centered around gourmet food, wine, and craft beer. She packs in interesting info and takes you to local places that change up with each season.
Here are some of the stops we made and things we ate:
We also stopped in at a local pub for some Slovenian craft beer and finally ended at a neat place that sells tea, fair trade coffee, and crepes in a very cozy spot that feels more like your grandma’s living room than a business. Unlike any cafe I’ve ever been to, at Ziferblat, you pay for the time you spend there, not for the specific items you order. They had you an old fashioning alarm clock when you enter.
Iva’s food tour is a fantastic way to get to see a lot of the center of Ljubljana while at the same time learning about the food and culture…and trying some delicious local specialities. Food and bike tours remain my best tip to get to know a city in a short time.
Cook Eat Slovenia Culinary Class
- Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday from 18:00 – 22:00
- Gostilna Dela, Poljanska cesta 7, 1000 Ljubljana
- 70.00 € / person
- Longer Food/cooking Tours: culinaryslovenia.com/join-our-tours/cooking-and-wine-tasting-holiday-in-slovenia
Ljubljananjam Food Walks
- All tours customized to your taste, budget, and diet
- 3-4 hours
- Starts at 45 € per person
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Disclosure: I traveled and stayed on my own in Ljubljana but was a guest of Cook Eat Slovenia and the Ljubljananjam food walk. As always, all views are my own.